Last night, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression announced the recipients of the 2015 “Jefferson Muzzle” awards, bestowed upon the worst government censors and punishers of protected speech in the past year. The TJ Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Charlottesville, Virginia, dedicated to protecting free speech. I worked for the TJ Center before coming to FIRE, and I saw firsthand how tough the competition for the Muzzle awards is each year—there are a depressingly large number of qualified nominees.
Just like last year, a few of the 2015 “winners” will sound familiar to Torch readers.» Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: Bergen Community College
Asnuntuck Community College
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cases: Bergen Community College: Professor Sanctioned for Photo of Daughter in ‘Game of Thrones’ Shirt Asnuntuck Community College: Student Recording Conversation with Governor Suspended, Deprived of Fair Hearing
George Mason University has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from FIRE.» Read More
As anyone who won their office March Madness pool will tell you, successfully predicting future events can be fun sometimes. Other times, less so—like when your favorite free speech watchdog organization correctly forecasts a disappointing development for campus discourse.
Unfortunately, we’re stuck with the latter today.
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Every so often, a cultural touchstone descends on college campuses, with the effect of putting campus discourse under the microscope for all to see. The results, frequently, are discouraging. Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster film American Sniper, adapted from deceased Navy sniper Chris Kyle’s memoir, is the latest exhibit.» Read More
Adjunct faculty members attempting to unionize at a community college outside of St. Louis are now free to gather signatures for a petition asking the college’s administration to remain neutral in their unionization effort. A St. Charles Community College administrator had initially denied faculty members their right to gather signatures before reversing course earlier this month.» Read More
Exactly one year ago today, Virginia’s highest court issued an important ruling balancing government transparency with academic freedom for public university faculty. And last month, an Arizona state court did the same.» Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: University of Arizona
University of Virginia
Cases: Virginia: Attorney General Investigates Professor’s Research
Yesterday, victims’ rights advocacy group Know Your IX issued an open letter to college and university presidents, calling on institutions “to ensure procedural rights for both parties, the accused and the accusing student.” Cosigned by similarly focused campus organizations like No Red Tape and Carry That Weight, Know Your IX’s letter explicitly recognizes that “schools must provide procedural protections for all students” and thus signifies an important turning point in the national conversation about how best to respond to campus sexual assault.» Read More
Category: The Torch
Cases: National: White House Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault Jeopardizes Student Due Process National: Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights April 4, 2011, Guidance Letter Reduces Due Process Protections
This week, Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of history and education at New York University, authored an essay for Inside Higher Ed in which he criticizes colleges that have punished students for racist comments.» Read More
In the week and a half since the Princeton faculty approved a new statement on free expression, students have been vigorously debating the statement and the question of free speech on campus more generally. While some remarks have reflected the regrettable “I have the right not to be offended” attitude too prevalent among college students today, the debate overall has reflected a thoughtful consideration of the issues.» Read More
For three decades, the North Baltimore Pro-Life Study Group has set up a display of anatomical models of fetal development as part of Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU’s) annual Spring Fair. This year, however, JHU’s Arts and Crafts Committee decided to disallow the display because it “contains triggering and disturbing images and content.” Thankfully, after pushback from student Andrew Guernsey, president of the student group Voice for Life, the Committee reversed its decision. But as Guernsey points out in emails to the student government, speakers on campus may still be subject to policies that can be used to censor a broad range of speech—despite JHU’s written commitments to free expression.» Read More